The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Jason Alder / Piotr Michalowski: Contradictions (Creative Sources)

Dialogs on the lowest of reed instruments from the Ann Arbor, Michigan duo of Jason Alder and Piotr Michalowski, using Leblanc paperclip contrabass clarinet and Selmer rosewood contrabass and contra-alto clarinets, as they apply diverse approaches to avant improvisation of deep interaction, from active grumblings to beautiful tonal stretches. ... Click to View

Anthony Braxton : Dortmund (Quartet) 1976 (Hatology)

An essential album in Braxton's catalog, this 1976 recording at the Jazzfestival "Jazz Life" in Dortmund, German with the superb quartet of Dave Holland on bass, Barry Altschul on drums & percussion, and George Lewis on trombone, in an album of post-bop avant modern jazz performing five Braxton numbered compositions; challengingly brilliant and exhilarating! ... Click to View

Misha Mengelberg : Two Days In Chicago [2 CDs] (Hatology)

In 1998 European legendary free improvising pianist Misha Mengelberg spent two days in Chicago, recording in the studio and then live at The Velvet Lounge in a variety of settings of collective free playing and covering Monk tunes, with the support of Ken Vandermark, Fred Anderson, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Kent Kessler, Hamid Drake, Ab BAars, Wilbert de Joode, &c. ... Click to View

Rachel Musson / Pat Thomas / Mark Sanders: Shifa: Live at Cafe Oto [VINYL + DOWNLOAD] (577)

"Shifa, or "Healing", is the London-based trio of saxophonist Rachel Musson, pianist Pat Thomas, and drummer Mark Sanders, here in a live concert at Cafe Oto in 2018 of two collective improvisations, a tonic of arching sax lines, rolling and potent drumming, powerful block chords and intricate lines, from dark to joyful moments, an intoxicating tonic for the ears. ... Click to View

Chester Hawkins : Cops Need Serial Numbers [USB mp3 & wav + pdf] (Intangible Arts)

DC electronic explorer Chester Hawkins releases this very limited edition of 50 USB album of 10 extended forays into psychedelic electronics, synth and tabletop guitar, synth journeys to hard drone & abstract concrete elements enhancing the way, the album shaped like a metal bullet that unscrews to reveal the USB drive, housed in a handsome black case. ... Click to View

Sylvie Courvoisier / Mark Feldman: Time Gone Out (Intakt)

At around 20 years of collaboration, the duo of pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and violinist Mark Feldman has redefined the dialog between European and American approaches to improvisation and composition, bridging traditional and modern approaches, here in a studio album of power and restraint, energy and fragility, discipline and freedom. ... Click to View

Russ Lossing Trio: Ways (Hat Hut Ezz-Thetics)

An essential part of the New York jazz scene since the mid-80s, pianist Russ Lossing's compositions employ concept and space in unique and personal ways, as heard in these 8 original works performed with his trio of long-time collaborators, double bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Billy Mintz, in an album of highly evolved and lyrically sophisticated music. ... Click to View

Richard Pinhas / Tatsuya Yoshida: Ascension (Magaibutsu Limited)

The collaboration between Magaibutsu label leader, Yoshida Tatsuya (Ruins, Korekyojinn, Koenji, The World Heritage, &c) on drums, keyboards & voice, and Heldon mastermind Richard Pinhas on guitar & effects, continues with this CD of live material from their 2014 Japanese tour, extending the 2015 "Live in Japan" album, including the 8-part "Ascension". ... Click to View

Christophe Rocher / Joe Fonda / Harvey Sorgen: New Origin (Not Two)

The trio of bassist Joe Fonda, drummer Harvey Sorgen and clarinetist Christopher Rocher in an album dedicated to reedist Perry Robinson, a heartfelt album balancing structured composition and collective work, with authoritative free playing from all three as Rocher switches between bass clarinet and b-flat, Fonda plucks and bows, and Sorgen skilfully mixes it up. ... Click to View

Robert Dick / Joelle Leandre / Miya Masaoka: Solar Wind (Not Two)

Virtuosic collective improvisations with Robert Dick on flute, bass flute, contrabass flute, & piccolo flute, Joelle Leandre on contrabass and Miya Masaoka on koto & percussion, Dick and Leandre punctuating the conversation with their voice on 4 pieces, as the three record in the studio in NYC in 2018 for 12 succinct dialogs that balance abstraction and passionate intention. ... Click to View

Big Tent (Jerome Kitzke / Steve Rust / Harvey Sorgen): I Am Waiting (Not Two)

The New York trio of pianist Jerome Kitzke, bassist Steve Rust on electric and acoustic, and drummer/percussionist Harvey Sorgen, alternate consummately clever approaches to collective playing with Kitzke's humorously ironic and insightful reading of four poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti from his "A Coney Island of the Mind" in honor of his 100th birthday. ... Click to View

Jeb Bishop Flex Quartet: Re-Collect (Not Two)

A set of Jeb Bishop compositions performed at The Hungry Brain in Chicago, from the inventively lyrical quartet of Jeb Bishop (trombone), Russ Johnson (trumpet), Frank Rosaly (drums), and Jason Roebke (bass), performing music written for this same quartet at the invitation of Ken Vandermark for the Okka Festival 7 in Milwaukee; optimistic and joyful modern jazz! ... Click to View

Matthew Shipp : Invisible Light, Live Sao Paulo (Hat Hut Ezz-Thetics)

Captured live at the 2016 Jazz at the Factory Festival in Sao Paulo, this addition to New York pianist Matthew Shipp's catalog finds the masterful player presenting his own compositions like "Symbol Systems", "Gamma Ray" or "Invisible" light alongside unique takes on "Angel Eyes", "On Green Dolphin Street", "Yesterdays" and "Summertime". ... Click to View

Marco von Orelli / Tommy Meier / Luca Sisera / Sheldon Suter: Lotus Crash (Hat Hut Ezz-Thetics)

Trumpeter Marco von Orelli's piano-less quartet with Tommy Meier on tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, Luca Sisera on double bass, and Sheldon Suter on drums is caught live at Theater am Gleis, in Winterthur, Switzerland in 2018, and at Boudoir au Revoir, the same year, performing von Orelli's compellingly clever compositions, plus one each from Adam lane and Tommy Meier. ... Click to View

NYUK (Nasuno / Yoshida / Uchihashi / Nasuki): NYUK (Magaibutsu)

An extension of the Korekyojinn band of Nasuno Mitsuru, Yoshida Tatsuya, and Kido Natsuki, by adding guitarist Uchihashi Kazuhisa (Altered States, Ground Zero, Innocent Records), for eight intense improvisations recorded at Shinjuku Pit Inn, Tokyo in 2013, a startling album of jaw-dropping polyrhythmic, avant rock interaction and intention; spectacular. ... Click to View

Aki Takase: Hokusai Piano Solo (Intakt)

Under the inspiration of Japanese painter Katsushika Hokusai, Berlin-based improvising pianist Aki Takase recorded these impressive works over two days at the Sendesaal Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, some live during an award ceremony where she was awarded The Berlin Jazz Prize, some in the studio, along including a duo with pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach. ... Click to View

Albert Ayler Quartets: Spirits To Ghosts (remastered) (Hat Hut Ezz-Thetics)

Three variations of quartet settings from iconoclastic free jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler, remastering and combining two Debut Records albums, "Spirits" from 1964 with Norman Howard (trumpet), Sunny Murray (drums), and alternating bass between Henry Grimes & Earle Henderson; and 1965's "Ghosts" on Debut Records with Don Cherry (trumpet), Gary Peacock (bass), and Sunny Murray. ... Click to View

Marion Brown: Capricorn Moon To Juba Lee (remastered) (Hat Hut Ezz-Thetics)

Merging and remastering two essential albums from free jazz saxophonist Marion Brown: his 1966 ESP album "Marion Brown Quartet" with trumpeter Alan Shorter, bassist Reggie Johnson and percussionist Rahied Ali; and his 1967 Fontana album "Juba-Lee" in a septet with Reggie Johnson, drummer Beaver Harris, pianist Dave Burrell, trombonist Grachan Moncur III & saxophonist Bennie Maupin. ... Click to View

Evan Parker / Matthew Wright / Trance Map+: Crepuscule in Nickelsdorf (Intakt)

Composed by saxophonist Evan Parker and electronic artist Matthew Right, "Trance Map" has Parker triggering interactions with samples from Wright's record collection, contorted by live processing, here in an incredible expanded performance at Konfrontationen 2017 with Adam Linson on bass & electronics, John Coxon on turntable & electronics, and Ashley Wales on electronics. ... Click to View

Leap of Faith: Nucleosynthesis (Evil Clown)

A core trio setting for Boston's framework improvising Leap of Faith with David Peck (PEK) on clarinets, saxophone and assorted winds, Yuri Zbitnoff on drums & percussion, and Glynis Lomon on cellos and percussion, along with "2 gongs, a ton of Tibetan bowls and bells, various orchestral castanets, various seed pod and other wood rattles, and other small thing". ... Click to View

Eclectic Maybe Band: Reflections In A Moebius Ring Mirror (Discus)

The second album of this Guy Segers (Univers Zero) project in an eclectic ensemble of improvisers, rock musicians and experimenters, a genre-defying project of primarily instrumental work with interventions of song, merging acoustic & electric instruments with electronics, live improvisation with studio manipulation, to find new forms of mesmerizing music. ... Click to View

Keith Tippett: The Unlonely Raindancer (Discus)

Mujician pianist Keith Tippetts embarked on his first solo tour in 1979, capturing these concert recordings that were originally released in 1980 on vinyl on the Universe Label; long out of print, Discus has revived these extraordinary recordings, showing the incredible technical abilities, endurance, and quick-witted creative powers of this legendary improviser. ... Click to View

Frostlake: Ice & Bone (Discus)

The second album from multi-instrumentalist Frostlake (Jan Todd, also of Orchestra of The Upper Atmosphere), hallucinatory songs of layered vocals accompanied by the creative bass of Terry Todd, for rich atmospheres with warm instrumentation augmented by field recordings; absorbing music that draws its listeners into their beautiful, psychedelic dream states. ... Click to View

Beck Hunters: Has It Been Found? (Discus)

UK Tenor saxophonist and bassoonist Beck Hunter (Feet Packets, Gated Community) leads his trio with Anton Hunter on guitar and Johnny Hunter on drums, their second album of confident, self-possessed free improvisation with both an assertive edge and excellent exploratory moments, a sense of humor and a serious intent, a great example of collective improv. ... Click to View

Michael Zerang: Asssyrian Caesarean [VINYL] (Holidays Records)

His first solo album in a career spanning back to 1976, Chicago percussionist Michael Zerang presents a diverse set of improvisations demonstrating the wealth of approaches he has developed over the year, including the use of vibrating drumhead surfaces, expressive friction passages, multiple timbre percussion, and straight up trap-set drumming; absolutely impressive. ... Click to View

Keiji Haino / Jim O'Rourke / Oren Ambarchi: In the past only geniuses were capable of staging the perfect crime (also known as a revolution) Today anybody can accomplish their aims... [VINYL 2 LPs] (Black Truffle)

The ninth album from the enduring trio of Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke, and Oren Ambarchi, recorded in 2015 at Tokyo's SuperDeluxe, with both Ambarchi and O'Rourke performing on drums and percussion, O'Rourke also using a Hammond Organ and Ambarchi on flute, while Haino asserts himself on guitar, electronics and voice, in 2 groove-based pieces and 2 side-long epics. ... Click to View

Limbo Ensemble: Limbo (Creative Sources)

A fascinating confluence of improvisation and contemporary compositional approaches from this Spanish ensemble led by composer and drummer Nasim Lopez Palacios, using 5 reeds, trumpet, flute, piano, electric guitar, harp, double bass, drums and electronics in an extended work exploring space, tension and motion, with a beautiful build to catharsis. ... Click to View

Rob Mazurek: Love Waves Ecstatic Charge (Astral Spirits)

One of three releases in Rob Mazurek's Marfa Trio, recorded in Marfa, TX, using 106 distorted still images and fragmented skipping sound from video shot at Abbaye Royal de Fontevraud, France in 2005, repurposed for this intense and wild sound work which processes the images through modular synth and computer, shaped by Mazurek's unique approach to sound. ... Click to View

Rob Mazurek: Psychotropic Electric Eel Dreams IV (Astral Spirits)

Recordings from the 4-channel sound composition for the ESS Florasonic installation series at Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago, of Rob Mazurek's work using recordings of electric eels from National Institute of Research and Technology in Manaus, Brazil, combined with analog/digital synthesis to create environments of beautiful undulating and radiant sonic textures. ... Click to View

Mark Hanslip / Emil Karlsen: Planish (Noumenon)

Saxophonist Mark Hanslip and drummer Emil Karlsen, two active figures on the UK free improv and jazz scene, in a sax & drum duo fueled by live performances, here in their first album of informed and exploratory dialog, five works that run the gamut from textural open playing to fiery free jazz, a solid first endeavor and addition to Karlsen's Noumenon label. ... Click to View

Emil Karlsen: Flux (Noumenon)

Norwegian-born drummer Emil Karlsen living in London presents his first solo drum album, and the first album on his Noumenon label, a series of 11 dynamic compositions and improvisations exploring extended techniques, timbre and textures, inspired as much by the likes of Cecil Taylor and Andrew Cyrille as by John Cage and Igor Stravinsky. ... Click to View

Jeb Bishop / Alex Ward / Weasel Walter: Flayed (ugEXPLODE)

An assertive album of free improv bringing together players from New York (drummer Weasel Walters), London (clarinetist & electric guitarist Alex Ward), and Chicago (trombonist Jeb Bishop), their previous shared projects and cross-genre intentions in rock, hardcore jazz and other experimental forms leading to this wonderfully quirky and masterful album of excoriating free jazz. ... Click to View

Rob Mazurek: Desert Encrypts Vol. 1 (Astral Spirits)

The third volume in trumpeter Rob Mazurek's Marfa Trilogy, inspired by the desert surroundings of Marfa, TX where Mazurek held his first Desert Encrypts Festival, this album captured live with the superb quartet of Kris Davis on piano, Chad Taylor on drums, and Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten on bass, for 6 passionate and compelling works of modern jazz. ... Click to View

Martin Archer : Another Fantastic Individual (Discus)

Reflecting on the Horweb Sax Quartet he was a member of during the 80s, UK improvising saxophonist Martin Archer uses AACM influences (and covers one Roscoe Mitchell piece) as he plays all parts of a series of "solo" saxophone recordings, layering his playing alone and in harmony, in call and response, and in insanely creative ways that never cease to engage his listeners. ... Click to View

Flying Luttenbachers, The: Shattered Dimension [VINYL 2 LPs] (God Records)

Weasel Walter is the constant in the no-wave influenced free improvising band Flying Luttenbachers, formed in 1991 and on hiatus since 2007; Walter reassembled the concept in 2018 for a tour in France, then again in 2019 with this lineup of saxophonist Matt Nelson, guitarist Brandon Seabrook and bassist Tim Dahl, recording this startling, demanding and excellent album. ... Click to View

Oren Ambarchi: Simian Angel [VINYL] (Editions Mego)

Oren Ambarchi renews the focus on his unique approach to the electric guitar, joining with Downtown NY Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista on congas, shakers and berimbau, in a duo based on Ambarchi's explorative playing, also conjuring organ and piano tones, as each side-long piece take the listener on a journey of passionate playing of subtlety and warmth. ... Click to View

Eugene Chadbourne : Solo Guitar Volume 3-1/3 [VINYL] (Feeding Tube Records)

The third of four volumes in Feeding Tube's series of solo albums from guitarist Eugene Chadbourne documents recordings made in Calgary, Canada in the 70s while he waited out Vietnam & Nixon; Chadbourne programmed this volume to reveal material never heard before, improvised in a creative period of playing influenced by jazz, country, folk, blues and free experimental styles. ... Click to View

Pauline Oliveros / Guy Klucevsek: Sounding / Way [VINYL] (Important Records)

One of two reissues from the collaboration of Important Records and the Pauline Oliveros Trust, this album with accordionist Guy Klucevsek was originally self-released in 1986 on cassette, each side presenting a piece for two accordions, here with Guy Klucevsek's "Tremolo No. 6" on side A and Pauline's Oliveros' "The Tuning Meditation" on Side B. ... Click to View

Pauline Oliveros : Tara's Room [VINYL] (Important Records)

One of two reissues from the collaboration of Important Records and the Pauline Oliveros Trust, this solo accordion album from Pauline Oliveros self-released in 1987 on cassette is a rich album in the vein of her Deep Listening work, two warmly beautiful pieces using a just intonation accordion and her Expanded Instrument System in order to bend time and pitch. ... Click to View

Leap of Faith: First Principles (Evil Clown)

Performed by a core set of 7 players who frequent the Boston-area Evil Clown collective, this subgroup from the Leap of Faith Orchestra is caught live at Third Life Studios in Somerville, MA, in a drummer-less setting of rhythm from PEK's arsenal of percussive devices and instruments, for a diverse & extended work of transformations across highly varied sonorities. ... Click to View

Sfyria Trio: Rockefeller Concert [CASSETTE] (Astral Spirits)

Since 2016 Sfyria Trio is the Chicago/NY free improvising trio of tenor saxophonist Sam Decker (Shorve, Logan Strosahl Team, Green and Grass), bassist Charlie Kirchen (The Few, Rooms, Charlie Kirchen Quartet), and drummer Matt Carroll (Ohmme, Typical Sisters, Rooms), performing their unique improv idiom incorporating elements from a wide range of musical perspectives. ... Click to View

Susan Alcorn / Joe McPhee / Ken Vandermark: Invitation To A Dream [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

An excellent album of informed free improvisation in the debut of this masterful trio of legendary musicians spread across the US--Joe McPhee on soprano sax & pocket trumpet [NY], Ken Vandermark on tenor sax & clarinet [Chicago], and Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar [Texas], a profound album from assertive to introspective playing in seven captivating collective improvisations. ... Click to View

Jonathon Crompton : Intuit (New Lab Records)

The debut as a leader for Australian saxophonist residing in Brooklyn, Jonathan Crompton, in a strong album of original compositions with astute arrangements over a diverse set of styles, moods and complexity, performed brilliantly with 4 saxophonists (Crompton, Ingrid Laubrock, Patrick Breiner & Patrick Booth), plus Adam Hopkins (bass) and Kate Gentile (drums). ... Click to View

Joe McPhee: Tenor & Fallen Angels (Hatology)

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Sven Johansson Ake: 6 Little Pieces (Hatology)

... Click to View

Cornelius Cardew : Treatise (Hat [now] ART)

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Anthony Braxton (Guillermo Gregorio , Jim O'Rourke, &c.): Compositions No. 10 & No. 16 (+101) (Hat [now] ART)

Recordings of 3 of composer Anthony Braxton, with clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio the consistent partner in all three: A variation of Composition 10(1) with Jim O'Rourke on accordion; Composition No 16 a duo with O'Rourke on hurdy gurdy; and another variation of Composition 10(2) with O'Rourke on electronics. ... Click to View

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Be Known Ancient/Future/Music (Spiritmuse Records)

Led by Chicago percussionist and AACM member Kahil El'Zabar and founded in 1981, Ethnic Heritage Ensemble releases this album of Afro-centric spiritual jazz, El'Zabar's voice drawing us into the compelling rhythms and grooves he and cellist Ian Maksin provide as foundations for baritone saxophonist Alex Harding and trumpeter Corey Wilkes' profound soloing. ... Click to View

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Be Known Ancient/Future/Music [2 LPS] (Spiritmuse Records)

Led by Chicago percussionist and AACM member Kahil El'Zabar and founded in 1981, Ethnic Heritage Ensemble releases this album of Afro-centric spiritual jazz, El'Zabar's voice drawing us into the compelling rhythms and grooves he and cellist Ian Maksin provide as foundations for baritone saxophonist Alex Harding and trumpeter Corey Wilkes' profound soloing. ... Click to View

John Zorn: Nove Cantici Per Francesco D'Assisi (Tzadik)

Inspired by the life and thought of the spiritual figure Saint Francis of Assisi, John Zorn composed these ten guitar trios as a suite to be performed during a residency at the Frick museum in New York City, with guitarists Julian Lage and Gyan Riley, heard on his previous "Midsummer Moons" album, joined by guitarist Bil Frisell; contemplative and lyrical music. ... Click to View

Klezmerson: The Book Beri'ah Vol 6-Tiferet (Tzadik)

This Mexican Klezmer groups with three percussionists, and a number of guests on this album, blends rock, jazz, and funk with Klezmer and Mexican styles, an unusual hybrid to take on the 6th Volume of John Zorn's Book Beri'ah, "Tiferet", combining flute and horns with guitar riffs as they take on Zorn's complex melodies and themes of irresistibly warm grooves. ... Click to View

Leap of Faith: Charge‐Transfer Complex (Evil Clown)

Reed player, composer and multi-instrumentalist David Peck (Aka PEK) presents a string-oriented edition of his long-running Leap of Faith ensemble, where violinist Mimi Rabson and cellist Glynis Lomon make up half of the quartet, all taking on a vast arsenal of percussive instruments, and Yuri Zbitnoff sporting a set of "shiny new drums". ... Click to View

Metal Chaos Ensemble: Basilisk (Evil Clown)

Formed in 2015 by reedist and multi-instrumentalist David Peck and percussionist Yuri Zbitnov to explore chaotic rhythms on metallic instruments, using the now extended arsenal of exotic percussive instruments the collective has amassed, in a 2-part album with Mike Gruen on electric bass creating a power trio of unusual rhythmic intention. ... Click to View

John Zorn: Encomia (Tzadik)

Stephen Gosling performs solo piano works by John Zorn, 3 impressionistic pieces in the tradition of Debussy and Ravel paying tribute to legendary ballet dancer Nijinsky, to author Novalis who is credited with inventing the prose poem, and 3rd century poet Nossis, and a duo for piano & violin with Chris Otto inspired by the art of Hilma af Klint and the writings of Sigmund Freud. ... Click to View

Zion80 (John Zorn): The Book Beri'ah Vol 8-HOD (Tzadik)

Jon Madof's 10-piece Zion80 ensemble exploring the Jewish tradition through the lense of afro-beat, funk, rock and jazz takeJon Madof's 1Jon Madof's 10-piece Zion80 ensemble exploring the Jewish tradition through the lenses of afro-beat, funk, rock and jazz, takes on John Zorn's 8th volume of his Book Beri'ah in 9 lyrically upbeat and effusive compositions that are rhythmically exciting and charged by superb soloing, a great album of irresistible beats and euphoric melody.0-piece Zion80 ensemble exploring the Jewish tradition through the lense of afro-beat, funk, rock and jazz takes on John Zorn's 8th volume of his Book Beri'ah in 9 lyrically upbeat and effusive compositions that are rhythmically exciting and charged by superb soloing, a great album of irresistible beats and euphoric melody.s on John Zorn's 8th volume of his Book Beri'ah in 9 lyrically upbeat and effusive compositions that are rhythmically exciting and charged by superb soloing, a great album of irresistible beats and euphoric melody. ... Click to View

Jeph Jerman / Steve Jansen: Third (Not On Label)

The third release from the US Southwest audio exploring duo of Steve Jansen and Jeph Jerman, expanding on their previous cassette releases with two works recorded in Cottonwood, AZ and Phoenix, AZ; curious and compelling sonic environments using unidentifiable sound sources that layer and intertwine, each building and receding enigmatically. ... Click to View

Jeph Jerman: Voiced [CS w/BOOK] (Fidgety Editions)

Originally released on cassette on the Netherlands Counter Culture Chronicles label, this expanded and revised edition of Jerman's confounding album of fragmented vocal collage along with voices, hiss, birds, snippets of radio broadcasts and other field recordings, includes a 72-page book of texts and recording information, a unique and confounding album of sound. ... Click to View

Barry Guy : Blue Horizon. Barry Guy@70 (Live At The Ad Libitum Festival 2017) [3 CDs] (Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))

Three astonishing concerts on 3 consecutive nights at the Ad Libitum Festival 2017 in Warsaw, Poland from British bassist Barry Guy in 3 configurations: 1st in a duo with Spanish pianist Agusti Fernandez; 2nd in a trio with US pianist Marilyn Crispell and British drummer Paul Lytton; and 3rd in a double bass duo with French bassist Joelle Leandre. ... Click to View

Joelle Leandre: Strings Garden [3 CDs] (Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))

Three concerts from 2016 & 2017 of different string duos anchored by Leandre's double bass, starting at rue Victor Masse 75009 in Paris in a double bass duo with Bernard Santacruz; then a bass and cello duo at Le Triton Les Lilas, France with Gaspar Claus; and completing the set, a performances at DZIK, in Warszaw, Poland with violinist and violist Theo Ceccaldi. ... Click to View

Agusti Fernandez : River Tiger Fire [4 CDs] (Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))

Recorded at the 2014 Ad Libitum Festival in Warsaw, pianist and composer Agusti Fernandez was invited to perform four concerts in celebration of his 60th birthday, choosing his working trio Aurora for once concert, a solo performance of "El Laberint de la Memoria", his electroacoustic Thunder trio, and a large ensemble conduction: "River, Tiger Fire". ... Click to View

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  Joelle Leandre 
  A Woman's Work [8 CD BOX SET]  
  (Not Two) 

   review by Phil Zampino
Joelle Leandre: A Woman's Work [8 CD BOX SET] (Not Two)

A disclaimer: I've long been a fan of Joëlle Léandre, and as a buyer for Squidco, always pick up any album that I see her leading or playing on. I admire her impressive skills on the double bass, both plucking and bowing, showing characteristics from the history of free jazz bass players and her own, very unique path on the instrument. And for myself, even more endearing are her vocals, very much in the vein of Phil Minton or Joane Hétu; her vocalizations are confident and strange, the two highest compliments I can give to a free improvising vocalist. She has an outstanding discography of more than 100 albums as a leader and/or in the company of some of free improvisation's finest global players. Her creative interests seems restlessly infinite, and the diversity of her projects is exemplary. But more specifically to my disclaimer: Léandre has also been a very encouraging angel for Squidco, writing to us in the most charming manner since our earliest days, thanking us for taking on the music that we sell and bringing a sense of satisfaction to me that we are part of the globally connected set of musicians that are driven to create the music we so admire.

I was excited when I saw that she had an 8-CD box set on the Polish Not Two label, a retrospective of sorts bringing a variety of settings and groups together into one magnificent package. Not Two does not disappoint, providing a sturdy box with an outer sliding sleeve jacket, inside a 16 page 10" x 5" booklet that rests over two compartments containing 4 CDs each. The booklet starts with an essay from Stuart Broomer, and a longer retrospective article on Léandre from Marciej Karlowski, plus photos, quotes and credits. Each of the CDs presents a different grouping of Léandre with other like-minded improvisers, with the exception of disc 6 which is pure Léandre solo. The groupings are: CD 1, Les Diaboliques (Léandre, Irene Schweizer, Maggie Nicols); CD 2, Léandre & Mat Maneri; CD 3, Léandre & Lauren Newton; CD 4, Léandre & Jean-Luc Cappozzo; CD 5, Léandre & Fred Frith; CD 6, Léandre solo; CD 7, Léandre in a quartet with Zlatko Kaučič, Evan Parker and Augusti Fernandez; CD 8 duos between Léandre and Zlatko Kaučič, Evan Parker and Augusti Fernandez. Most of the material was recorded in 2015 & 2016, with the Solo disc from 2005 and the Maneri duo from 2011.

CD 1:

The first disc of the box opens strongly with Les Diaboliques, the trio of Joëlle Léandre on bass, Irene Schweizer on piano, and Maggie Nicols on voice. "Diaboliques" or "little devils" is an apt name for this grouping, bring both superlative playing skills and a sense of mischievousness to their improvising. The trio is caught live in DOM in Moscow in 2015.

All three are masterful players, technically superb and with long histories in a variety of settings and approaches to improvised music. They are also all interested in unique approaches to improvisation, and their performances have both sophisticated and polished playing extremely balanced by unusual vocalization, inside piano playing, and eccentric bass technique. The result is exhilarating and unpredictable. The concert begins with the full trio for an extended dialog with tight interactions that take strange twists and turns, Nichols and Léandre both bringing bending notes and odd utterances over Schweizer's anchor; halfway through, the converstation takes a strange turn, breaking down to both Nichols and Léandre singing and speaking, Schweizer inevitably returning in a strong direction that takes all three players to the top of their game, Nichols closing on a sighing note. Nichols and Léandre follow with a dynamic duo, Nichols getting wilder as her voice warms, trading operatic exercises with raspy cries and odd wordless phrasing, while Léandre trades similar statements in furious bowing, powerful plucking and unusual harmonics. The performance continues in wonderfully consistent work through to the 5th piece, where Léandre and Nichols step back for a solo from Schweizer that showcases her powerful technique and nimble mind as she constructs lyrically inclined and extended statements that blend compositional and jazz phrasing in effortless ways. The concert ends with the full group uniting in a tour de force finale.

The next four CDs in the set are all recorded in superb clarity by French engineer Jean-Marc Foussat, who is also a free improvising keyboardist, electronics whiz, and vocalist, bringing a unique perspective to his engineering work. Fou als runs his own label imprint, Fou Records, which releases both his own new material and also essential recordings from the 80s with artists including Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Joëlle Léandre, Willem Breuker Kollektief, &c.

CD 2: Duo of Joëlle Léandre & Mat Maneri

This duo set brings the French bassist together with New York violinist Mat Maneri for 6 improvisations in a chamber jazz vein. The confluence of strings is unique to the box, different than the CD with Fred Frith in the seemingly traditional approaches both bring to the set. Recorded at La Java in Paris, both bring a mix of contrasting and complementary styles to their playing. The music is perhaps more sober than other albums in the set, but no less exciting in the sophisticated approaches both employ. I particularly enjoy the contrast between Léandre's plucking and Maneri's bow work, providing staccato counterpoint to Maneri's journeying forays. What's not heard in this set is Léandre's voice, lending a distinct air of profundity to their improvisation, which is somewhat unique to the other more eccentric performances heard in the box.

CD 3: Duo of Joëlle Léandre & Lauren Newton

The 3rd disc continues the series of duo recordings that dominate the set. The pairing of Léandre on double bass and free improvising vocalist Lauren Newton, captured in superb clarity, are from the Lecture Room at FRAC of Besnançon. There is nothing conventional about this format, though on the surface it is straight-forward that Léandre is the agile foundation for Newton's exquisite voice and flights, sallies, and expeditions in free directions.

While mostly wordless free vocalization and double bass, The last improvisation has Newton telling the story of an old lady with a pig going to market, as Léandre accompanies with interaction that supports, responds and interrupts Newton's story. It's dramatic, quirky, and a curiosity, as Newton interjects her incredible vocal technique into the story. As the tale builds in complexity, Léandre's accompaniment builds in intensity, pausing and starting with increased vigor as the old lady's journey continues. It's one of the most amusing moments of the box set without pandering or breaking the continuity of their performance — it makes sense that Newton's wordless vocals would fit so well with actual words, and gives the feeling of pulling back the curtain on what goes on in her mind while she vocalizes.

CD 4: Duo of Joëlle Léandre & Jean-Luc Cappozzo

An ominous and heavy conversation between two French players, the set starts with Léandre bowing over Cappozzo's darkly lyrical and excursive playing, a nearly 10 minute masterpiece of clarity in conversation. Cappozzo is three years Léandre's younger, so the two share both country and generation. Their compatibility is clear, and their similar experiences brings patience and wisdom to their playing. For the second piece Léandre adds her voice, ruminating over distant twilight trumpet. The set continues through a mix of bowing, plucking, lyrical, serpentine, and pointillistic playing, a wonderful blend of style and approaches as the two jump from topic to topic and find common ground in every conversation. Léandre uses her voice sparingly as an accent to the playing, Cappozzo sometimes responding to her uniquely idiosyncratic ways. In many ways this disc is one of the most consonant of the set, as the two seem ideally suited to each other's playing and perspective.

CD 5: Duo of Joëlle Léandre & Fred Frith

As a long-time follower of guitarist Fred Frith's albums, from the earliest of Henry Cow days through his Ralph Records solo albums to his now decades-long career as a free improviser, I was eager to work my way to this disc. I was not disappointed: Frith and Léandre are captured live at Instants Cahvirés in 2016, again by Jean-Marc Foussat, for a beautifully recorded set of 3 dialogs, two of them about 17-minutes in length, with one final shorter piece to finish.

Frith's remarkable creativity and formidable extended techniques on the electric guitar fit perfectly with Léandre's approach, no doubt fueled by years of one-off projects like their 2003 Tempted to Smile release on Spool, or their 2012 MMM Quartet album Live At The Metz' Arsenal on Leo Records. Frith takes a frequently percussive approach to his playing, albeit often in tangential ways, extending his guitar with objects and extracting unusual moans and sighs from the strings. Léandre starts the set with an abstracted approach to an anchored bass line, slowly evolving away from it through forays in both plucking and bowing, along with her typically eccentric techniques that play well with Frith's musings. Settled in, the second dialog begins in a more abstracted way, Frith bringing in sounds like a diving airplane over Léandre's frantic bowing. The discourse continues with great technique and subject, building in intensity as the piece continues, Léandre eventually entering the extreme high registers of the bass as Frith plays a rapid string figure, inspiring Léandre to the only clear vocal additions of the set, as they finish the piece to enthusiastic applause. The final piece ties up the set in a brief encore of about 5 minutes, pulling all of the elements of the concert into play as Léandre bows deeply and Frith cuts loose in assertive playing, both using voice for rhythm and murmuring counterpoint. The set fadies out over Léandre's beautiful cooing. The excitement of the crowd as they applaud this magnificent set is enough to make the listener jealous, but thankful that Foussat did such a wonderful job capturing the night.

CD 6: Solo

The 6th CD in the box is pure Léandre, captured live at a concert titled La voix est Libre [The Voice is Free] recorded by Radio France at Bouffes du Nord in Paris. The audience is large and appreciative, attentive to her playing and responding along with her. The concert starts almost conventionally, but quickly Léandre starts bowing with strong harmonics, alternating between bowing and plucking, pushing herself with short vocal prompts as the pace builds. The great applause after her first piece seems to electrify her, as she starts her second improvisation with upper register bowing that's almost psychedelically electronic sounding. This continues for almost 5 minutes, throwing deep percussive motions and bottom end bowing to return to rapid higher register work, lightly hitting the instrument for a slight percussive accompaniment. Her breathing builds, and suddenly she unleashes an operatic tirade, a powerful voice that descends to the devil, growling, grunting, possessed and virtually speaking in tongues. And then she relents, and starts speaking in an almost imploring tone; I don't speak French so I don't understand what she says that brings laughter from the audience, but it's a wonderful release from the previous intensity, as she finishes the piece with a farcically lyrical turn, bringing cheers, laughter and more hearty applause.

The concert continues, the elements are similar but Léandre experiments and changes her approach so that each break brings something new and unique, bending, rising and lowering notes, her powerful technique making the double bass ring as only a masterful player can. Her confidence and playfulness are at times dark or menacing, but always there's a mischievousness and joy behind it. At times she speaks to herself in a personal language that drives her into unusual forays and frenzies, with a sense that's she's somehow possessed by an impish spirit. She so thoroughly puts herself into her performance I can't imagine how exhausted one would be after a concert like this, yet I have the feeling she could play the entire night, continuing to find inventive, impressive, and awe inspiringly new music to perform. An absolutely magnificent concert.


Joelle Leandre: A Woman's Work [8 CD BOX SET]
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